A Birth Mother’s Perspective
Working together to help Darren return home

I visited Darren a lot while he was in foster care and worked hard to get him back. Even though I had two relapses, I went to school full-time and worked part-time. I lived in a shelter some of the time, and I got TANF….

“This story is about Darren, not about us.”

After our visits, I always took Darren back to the agency where his foster mother would pick him up. For about a year, I never saw her. One day the agency worker had to leave before the foster mother arrived, so she asked if I would stay with Darren until his foster mother came. When we met, we were both very stiff, sizing each other up, and didn’t think we would like each other. But we were cordial. Shortly after this, Darren’s foster mother, Sally, called to tell me that Darren was going to be in a pageant at her church, and she invited me to come. Sally began to invite me to go on other outings with her and Darren. Gradually, we got used to each other, liked each other, and started working together to help Darren return home.

Getting to know Sally is what “did it”…. Sally helped Darren and me gradually become a family again.

Kate (Darren’s Mom) and Sally (His Foster Mom) Talk about their Success

Kate: Darren is the one who has benefited the most from the way that Sally and I work together. Sally never tried to replace me in Darren’s life. She told him that he couldn’t be with me because I was sick and was trying to get better. She let me become very involved in Darren’s life while he lived in her home, and she came to every court hearing with me. She didn’t let him call her mom, it was Mom Sally or just Sally. Now that he is living with me, he calls her Aunt Sally.

Darren has been home for 5 years. He is now 10 years old, and Sally is still a part of our lives. . . . .

Sally: Kate allows me to co-parent Darren, even after he returned to her home. We have the benefits of co-parenting without having to go through a marriage and a divorce. Darren goes with me on my summer vacation. . . .

Kate: When Darren lived with Sally, we tried to have the same rules for him so he wouldn’t be confused. When he came to visit me, I tried to keep the same routine and rules that Sally had established. The three of us went to counseling together. This helped ease the transition for Darren….

Sally: This story is about Darren, not about us. As Kate said, Darren is the one who has benefited the most from our working together. He has not had to leave behind any of the people that he has grown up with. He has a larger extended family than he would have had. . . .

Kate: I always knew that Sally had Darren’s best interests in her heart and that she was working with me and not against me. I knew what I had to do to get Darren back home. Sally didn’t make me do any of these things, but she supported all of my efforts.

From A Family’s Guide to the Child Welfare System by McCarthy et al. (2005)